A North Carolina teenager suffers from schizophrenia. His family calls the cops for help during an episode. The first officers on the scene taser and restrain the boy, Keith Vidal, 18 years old. Another car rolls up, and, according to the boy’s parents, Mark Wilsey and Mary Vidal, the new officer on the scene decides to handle the situation his way:
“We don’t have time for this,” Wilsey recalled one of the officers saying before he fired in between the two officers who were holding the teen down.
You can guess what comes next:
The Boiling Spring Laes Police Chief has cleared his officers of any wrong doing at the scene. Chief Brad Shirley says an internal review shows his officers did not break any laws.
That may not be the last word. The local prosecutor is investigating:
DA Jon David offered few new details other than that the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) had been called in to investigate. He said that it would take time to determine if a crime had been committed…
…but the parents have their doubts:
the family said that they were not invited to attend….Outside the press conference, the family held signs, demanding justice for Keith Vidal.
It is early days, of course, and the lawyer for the cop suspended after the incident says his client will be seen to be innocent, which is the presumption until a jury says otherwise. All the usual disclaimers apply.
But on the facts established so far (like this one: “The first unit on scene reported a confrontation in the hallway, but told Brunswick County Dispatchers several times that everything was OK.”), this looks very bad indeed.
And even if there are mitigating circumstances that come to light, still, this is what happens when guns are the first tool you reach for instead of the last.
That’s the deep problem with American gun (nut) culture. There are just too many guns out there, available to anyone “responsible” or not. The reality, of course, is that there are lots of situations where guns are inappropriate and lots of people for whom guns are just a really bad idea.
Some of those people are cops.
The last full measure of the misery of this story? Shortly before Wilsey and Vidal had to witness their kid gunned down in front of them, they lost their daughter to a car wreck. I can’t imagine…
I hugged my son extra hard when I got home last night, I can tell you.
Image: Pieter Breughel the Elder, The Triumph of Death, c. 1562.